The main players of Alphas are an affable enough bunch, even if they are a roundly dysfunctional crime-fighting force. Last night's episode — "The Unusual Suspects" — played with the audience's expectations by suggesting that one of Dr. Rosen's team was leaking information to Red Flag. Along the way, we received hints about the Alphas' conspiracy-clad origins. Spoilers ahead.
"The Unusual Suspects" opened with a bang — the episode opens with Dr. Rosen's team violently bagged and tagged by a SWAT team. They wake up in the much ballyhooed Alpha detainment compound at Binghamton, a sterile prison that looks way more prosaic than everyone's made it out to be.
There is however a fate worse than Binghamton, and it's Building Seven, a wing where "the worst of worst" reside permanently. And Dr. Rosen and the gang will be shipped there if they don't root out who amongst them has been leaking government secrets to Red Flag...secrets that are somehow linked to the famed Project MKUltra.
The episode worked best on the two separate occasions the team is trapped in one room and forced to root out the traitor. These scenes worked because they forced the audience to second guess how well we know Rosen's gang. The recap montage at the beginning of the episode did a good job of raising the audience's suspicions.
For example, is Hicks still under Red Flag's mind control? Gary's been communicating with Red Flag leader Anna — are they talking about more than his new jacket? Rachel's a bit of a bleeding heart, but why would she leak secrets about decades-old classified projects? Is Nina really the sultry manipulator everyone thinks she is? Is Bill doing some freelance mercenary work?
In the end, it turned out to be Dr. Rosen. That is, a Red Flag shapeshifter posing as Rosen. This was the weakest twist of the episode. It's stretching the show's rules a bit too far. Mind-control pheromones and adrenal super-strength are one thing, but a shapeshifter who can change from Rosen to Gary on the fly? That's a smidge too "Small Potatoes." Also, "The Unusual Suspects" was the penultimate episode of the season. A legitimate shocker was par for the course here, and Bill's heart attack doesn't cut it.
Nonetheless, there was a lot to love. I liked the implication that Nathan Clay's extreme measures brought the team closer. We finally got to see Bill and Hicks duke it out — super-strength versus super-reflexes, egads!
Strathairn did a wonderfully subtle job portraying a skeezy, bootleg version of Dr. Rosen, and as usual, Gary killed it when he admitted to being the team's loose cannon. Finally, I really liked how the nerdy lie-detector Alpha Eric Latreaux — one of Rosen's former patients — really, really loved musicals. Little embellishments like this pull Alphas above your average government ops thriller.